by Nancy Loyd
I have been thinking a lot about joy lately. Specifically, how to cultivate joy in a time in history that I find to be at best uncertain, and at worst, terrifying. I believe the world needs each of us to intentionally cultivate joy in order to not just survive, but to be able to stand firm into a chaotic time.
In The Book of Joy, Archbishop Desmond Tutu states, “Joy is much bigger than happiness. While happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstances, joy is not.” It is a state of mind and heart that animates our life and gives it meaning. It is what allows us to live a great life. One that is filled with meaning, purpose, love, laughter, wonder, and adventure. A joy filled life never diminishes pain and difficulties but in fact uses these experiences to break us open, allow God in, and help us to grow in wisdom. I believe joy and wisdom go hand-in-hand.
How do we cultivate joy? For me it is by remembering our divine goodness, finding our purpose, and knowing that it only takes one to make a difference in the world. Maybe that difference is as intimate of an act as truly listening and hearing another individual into being or maybe it’s as large as starting a social movement (the Women’s March all started with one grandmother in Hawaii!). It always comes down to each of us choosing to show up and respond to what God has put in front of us.
A friend of mine recently gave me a book titled One: How Many People Does It Take to Make a Difference and it begins with this poem:
One song can spark a movement
One flower can wake the dream
One tree can start a forest
One bird can herald spring
One smile begins a friendship
One handclasp lifts a soul
One star can guide a ship at sea
One word can frame the goal
One vote can change a nation
One sunbeam lights a room
One candle wipes out darkness
One laugh will conquer gloom
One step must start each journey
One word must start a prayer
One hope will raise our spirits
One touch can show you care
One voice can speak with wisdom
One heart can know what’s true
One life can make a difference
You see, it’s up to you.
Holding and believing in this is how we cultivate joy! May joy, love, wisdom, and peace permeate our lives and our world.